23 September 2005

DUP and SF clash over arms witness

Belfast Telegraph

By Claire Regan
23 September 2005

A bitter row erupted between the DUP and Sinn Fein last night after Ian Paisley accused the Government of making a secret deal with the IRA to exclude the need for an arms witness acceptable to unionists.

Speaking after a meeting with Political Development minister David Hanson, the DUP leader claimed that the IRA made the rules, appointed the referee and was doing as it wanted.

"I believe that they (the Government) have entered into a secret deal with the IRA," he said.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams hit back saying that if the DUP wanted to nominate a witness it should have talked to his party.

"It's a bit rich when unionist paramilitaries are using heavy calibre shoulder weapons to shoot at British troops and PSNI officers, and profess to be loyalists, that the DUP would be concerned about IRA weapons which are silenced and, which we all hope and pray, are going to be put beyond use in the period ahead," he said.

Mr Paisley said the DUP had sought the meeting with Mr Hanson now so they could not be accused of raising their concerns too late.

The DUP meeting with Mr Hanson came as the minister said that the IRA was beginning to make moves related to decommissioning.

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